May 7, 2020
By Darlynn Williams, PR County Public Health Nurse
Governor Bullock has announced a 3 phase plan to get Montana back to work while protecting the health of all Montanans and the healthcare system. As we enter phase 1 of this plan, the Governor remarks “I have developed this approach based on scientific evidence and data, and in consultation with public health experts, healthcare providers, business leaders, and emergency management professionals. This phased approach is based on up-to-date data and statewide preparedness. It mitigates the risk of resurgence. It protects the most vulnerable. It can be implemented on a statewide, tribal, or county-by county basis. And it contains the ability to adjust phases based on local or regional conditions. Montana’s response to COVID-19 has been necessary to slow the spread of new infections. These efforts have been effective. To date, our health care system has not been overwhelmed and we continue to work to increase our testing capacity. Through the collective efforts of all Montanans to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, Montana now has one of the lowest per capita rates of infection in the United States.”
We are all thankful the stay at home directive has been lifted. However, we must make a few alterations to how we go about our daily life. It is still recommended to limit contact with others as much as possible and to travel for essential services only. Those who are vulnerable, such as those over 65 years of age and those with underlying health conditions, are recommended to continue to stay at home as much as possible. Individual responsibility is needed to protect our community and loved ones.
To our delight, restaurants and bars are again open for service. They have made some alterations to the way they do business to protect you and the staff. Some of those changes include tables at least 6 feet apart and serving fewer people at one time. If the business is busy, consider a take-out order. Do your part in abiding by these rules during this transition phase.
As a reminder, out of state travel recommendations have not changed. Anyone coming in from another state is required to self-quarantine for 2 weeks. A Montana resident who leaves the state for any reason other than business must also self-quarantine for 2 weeks.
Remember: the best protection is to 1. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. 2. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow. 3. Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible. 4. Strongly consider using non-medical face coverings while in public, especially in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing (e.g., grocery/retail stores, pharmacies, public transportation).
All individuals, apart from members of a household, should: 1. When in public (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), maintain at least six feet of physical distance from others. 2. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. 3. Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to Montana guidelines regarding quarantine.
To date there are no cases of COVID-19 in Powder River County! Stay safe and be healthy.